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俞敏洪:老婆唠叨出来的企业家

(2007-10-18 10:23:42)
分类: 【C】【众名师印象】

 [来源:金融时报 作者:文/Raphael Minder 译者/力文 ]

 

老婆唠叨出来的企业家
  
  俞敏洪把他弃教从商的决定,在一定程度上归功于妻子没完没了的唠叨。

他以自己那种特有的坦白说道:“我的一些朋友挣到了更多的钱,我妻子希望我也能更成功。她觉得,与他们相比,我是个失败者。”

 

  于是俞敏洪奋起迎接挑战,创建了新东方学校(New Oriental),并将其打造为中国最大的民营教育公司,在34个城市建立了英语学校和其它学习中心。在最近一个财政年度,有100多万学生入学,将新东方的收入推高了36%,达到逾10亿元人民币(合1.36亿美元)。
 

  新东方的绝大多数学生是来学习英语的,往往是为了准备美国大学的入学考试。然而,入学动机正越来越变成只是为了在中国找个更好的工作。

俞敏洪说:“你看看像北京这样的城市,每天都会举行一次国际活动,显然非常需要会说英语的人才。而且中国人也知道,如果英语流利,薪水就可能立刻翻倍。”

 

  JP摩根(JPMorgan)表示,在高薪职业前景的吸引下,中国人在教育方面的支出迅速增加,现已占到中国总体消费支出的15%左右,仅次于食品。

 

  除了来自妻子的压力之外,俞敏洪表示,他之所以创办新东方,也是由于他没能获得美国大学的奖学金。

 

  这位现年45岁的企业家表示:“我被多所美国大学录取,但没有一所给我提供奖学金。我没有那么多钱啊。如果有人给我奖学金,学什么我都愿意,学宗教也行。”

  

  因此,为了筹到足够的钱让自己去美国留学,俞敏洪干起了业余语言家教,同时还在北京大学教授英语。最终,他放弃了这种两班倒的工作方式,因为他意识到,要花5年多才能筹到去美国的学费。“就是那个时候,我觉得可能我该试着在这儿做点生意了。”

 

  在好不容易疏通关系,获得了一张开办私人学校的许可证后,1993年11月,他在北京的首家新东方学校向13名学生敞开了大门。

  

  此举最终使俞敏洪得以成行美国。但他去年的目的地是纽约证交所(NYSE),而不是一所大学。自从在纽约证交所进行首次公开发行(IPO)以来,新东方的市值已升至逾20亿美元。经过配售后,俞敏洪现持有新东方25%的股权,同时通过其他员工和同事持有的股份保留着投票控制权。

  

  坐拥约2亿美元的资金,俞敏洪决心在全国各地开办更多学校,并将业务范围拓展至语言培训以外,新东方很快将增设数学课程。他希望提高新东方的市场份额。目前,中国的语言培训业市场规模为30亿美元,较为割裂,新东方所占的市场份额约为5%。

  

  新东方的客户来自一个受过教育程度、城市化程度日益提高的社会,这与俞敏洪儿时在农村的成长环境相去甚远。他回忆道:“我的父母整天都在地里干活。他们是文盲,连学中文都没想过,更不用说英语了。”但他的母亲鼓励他上学,俞敏洪在16岁时开始自学英语。

 

  他的教育不仅赋予了他事业的基础,而且还使他成为一名多产作家。在他写的10本书中,有一些已经登上了中国的畅销书榜,其中包括被译成英文的励志著作《永不言败》(The Relentless Pursuit of Success)。俞敏洪并不满足于做一位管理大师,他还希望成为志向更为远大的新一代中国人的“精神领袖”。他表示:“我想告诉学生们如何为更好的未来奋斗。”

  

  随着外国私人股本公司纷纷寻求加大在华投资,加之中国发展起了自己的风险投资产业,中国教育领域的发展正吸引着越来越多财力雄厚的投资者。俞敏洪承认,新东方需要改进其教育产品,以便在竞争中保持领跑地位。

 

  他正在考虑进入化学等学科教育领域,同时为渴求教育的社会提供更多的网络教育:中国官方统计数字显示,2005年中国学生中大学生的比例为16%,较1990年上升了2%。同时,新东方更为重视俞敏洪所说的“VIP教学”,以迎合能够负担得起更多个性化课程的新一代中国学子。

 

  “很多风险投资正进入中国教育领域,投资于一些规模较小的语言学校,其中多数来自美国。这是真正的挑战之一,”俞敏洪说道。

 

  俞敏洪非常认真地看待美国人带来的挑战。尽管当初申请奖学金失败,但这个更愿意自己在国外被称作麦克尔的男人仍然对美国充满赞叹。他称马丁"路德"金(Martin Luther King)是一位英雄,并表示新东方的座右铭:“从绝望中寻找希望,人生终将辉煌!”(Hew a stone of hope out of the mountain of despair and you can make your life a splendid one!)就是受这位美国民权领袖演讲的启发。

 

  至于俞敏洪自己的梦想,他相信“中国将是两种伟大文化交融的地方——中国文化和美国文化”。

 

  对于本已担心中国崛起为一个经济强国的局外人而言,这或许是一种可怕的想法,但它符合俞敏洪在几乎每个涉及中国发展及该公司进步的话题上所流露出来的乐观。

 

  那么,他的成功是否使他重新赢得了妻子的尊重呢?还没有。俞敏洪笑称:“这一次她希望我更多时间呆在家里,现在她认为我挤不出时间,所以还是个失败者。显然我不擅管理自己的妻子。”

 

China hones its English accent
  
  Yu Minhong attributes his decision to abandon a teaching career and go into business partly to his wife's intense nagging.

  

  “Some of my friends were making more money and my wife wanted me to be more successful. She felt that, compared with them, I was a loser,” he says with characteristic candour.

 

  Mr Yu rose to the challenge, founding New Oriental and turning it into China's biggest private education company, with English-language schools and other learning centres in 34 cities. In the latest financial year, more than 1m students enrolled, boosting New Oriental's revenues by 36 per cent to more than Rmb1bn ($136m).

 

  The overwhelming majority of students come to New Oriental to learn English, often to prepare for an entrance exam to a US university. Increasingly, however, the incentive is simply to land a better job in China.

 

  Mr Yu says: “If you look at a city such as Beijing, there's an international event every day, so English speakers are clearly in great demand. And the Chinese people also know that, with English proficiency, they can probably double their salary immediately.”

 

  The lure of a lucrative career has driven a rapid rise in education spending, which now accounts for about 15 per cent of China's overall consumer spending, second only to food, according to JPMorgan.

 

  Besides pressure from his wife, Mr Yu says he was motivated to start New Oriental after failing to secure a scholarship to an American university.

 

  The 45-year-old entrepreneur says: “I got admitted by various American universities but none of them would give me a scholarship and I just didn't have enough money. If somebody had offered me a scholarship, I would have studied anything, even religion.”

  

  So, Mr Yu tried to raise enough funds to send himself to the US by moonlighting as a private language tutor while also teaching English at Peking University. Eventually he stopped the double shifts after realising it would take five more years to raise enough money to study in America: “That's when I decided that I probably should try to do some business here instead.''

  

  After some arduous lobbying to obtain a licence to set up a private school (see right), he opened the classroom doors to 13 students at the first New Oriental School in Beijing in November 1993.

  

  It was a move that enabled Mr Yu to travel finally to the US. But his destination last year was the New York Stock Exchange, not a university. Since that NYSE initial public offering, the market value of New Oriental has climbed to more than $2bn. Following a secondary share sale, Mr Yu now has a stake of 25 per cent, as well as maintaining voting control through the holdings of other company employees and associates.

 

  With a war chest of about $200m, Mr Yu is determined to open more schools across China and diversify beyond language training, with maths soon to be added to the curriculum. He wants to increase New Oriental's market share, which is estimated at 5 per cent of the country's fragmented $3bn language-teaching industry.

 

  The educated and increasingly urban society from which New Oriental draws its clients is far away from Mr Yu's upbringing on a farm. He recalls: “My parents were out all day in the field. They were illiterate and didn't even think about learning Chinese, let alone English.'' But his mother encouraged him to attend school and at the age of 16 he started to teach himself English.

  

  His education not only gave him the foundations for his business but to also become a prolific author. Some of his 10 books have made the Chinese best-seller lists, including The Relentless Pursuit of Success, a motivational tome that has been translated into English. Not content with being a management guru, he hopes to become a “spiritual leader'' for a new and more ambitious generation of Chinese. “I want to tell students how to fight for a better future,” he says.

  

  As foreign private equity firms seek to invest more in China and the country develops its own venture capital industry, the development of China's education sector is attracting a growing number of deep-pocketed investors. Mr Yu recognises that New Oriental needs to adapt its educational offering to stay ahead of the competition.

  

  He is considering venturing into offering subjects such as chemistry, as well as providing more online teaching in response to a society hungry for education: 16 per cent of Chinese students were in higher education in 2005, a rise from 2 per cent in 1990, according to official Chinese statistics. There is also greater emphasis on what Mr Yu calls “VIP teaching”, a response to a new generation of Chinese students who can afford more customised courses.

  

  “There are so many VCs coming into education in China and investing into smaller language schools, mostly from the US. This is one of the real challenges,” he says.

  

  That American challenge is taken seriously by a man who prefers to be called Michael outside China and has maintained his admiration for the US in spite of his scholarship failures. Mr Yu cites Martin Luther King as a hero and says a speech by the American civil rights leader inspired New Oriental's motto: “Hew a stone of hope out of the mountain of despair and you can make your life a splendid one!”

 

  As to Mr Yu's own dream, he believes “China will be a place where two great cultures can merge, the Chinese culture and the American culture”.

 

  That might be a scary thought for outsiders already worried about China's rise as an economic powerhouse, but chimes with the optimism that Mr Yu exudes on almost any topic relating to China's development, as well as the progress of his company.

 

  So has his success regained him his wife's respect? Not yet. Mr Yu jokes “this time she wants me to stay more at home and now thinks I'm a loser for not managing to squeeze in the time. I'm clearly not good at managing my wife.”

 

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相关链接:

 

  新东方课堂新东方播客俞敏洪文档王 强文选徐小平专栏
  众名师印象游学新东方东方大事记聚焦新东方新东方文化

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